2012. Vol.2, No.2, 200-203
Published Online April 2012 in SciRes (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/sm) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/sm.2012.22026
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Socio-Cultural Approaches to Tourism: A Research on the
“Tourist” Notion of Young Turkish People
Ferika Özer Sari
Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, Vocational School, Yaşar University, Izmir, Turkey
Received December 23rd, 2011; revised January 21st, 2012; accepted February 17th, 2012
Significance of tourism sector in Turkey is constantly expanding. Correspondingly the importance of the
economic and socio-cultural impact of tourism also continues to develop. Because tourism draws tourists
get into closer contact with the locals it has positive and negative effects on the destination. In general the
aim of tourists is satisfying their expectations at the maximum degree during their stay. On the other side
locals who live and work in the destination region have a primary role in welcoming them and satisfying
the tourists’ needs and expectation. Turkish society is particularly well known for many generations as
being very hospitable. Current research aims to reveal whether the young Turkish people sustain tradi-
tional “Turkish Hospitality” and to see their thoughts about tourists. The field research has been con-
ducted on students of a foundation university located in Izmir and these young people’s point of view on
tourists has been investigated by face to face interviews. It has been concluded that there is a weakening
trend, nevertheless the notion of hospitality remains.
Keywords: Tourism Sociology; Tourist; Young Turkish; Traditional Turkish Hospitality; Guest
Tourism industry has a growing importance for Turkey. The
destination has been the ninth most visited country in terms of
incoming tourists and seventh in terms of tourism revenue
worldwide. The incoming tourist numbers has increased to 28.6
million, tripling when compared with 10 years ago. Revenues
from tourism have reached 20.8 billion dollars, tripling since
2000, when it had been 7.6 billion dollars (Turkish Ministry of
Culture and Tourism, 2011). Tourism, which is of increasing
importance day by day to the national economy, has been gain-
ing importance culturally and socially.
Formerly, some of the tourism researchers such as Butler in
1980, Doxey in 1975, Smith in 1989 and De Kadt in 1979
studied the regional tourism activities and the host-guest rela-
tionship (Cooper et al., 2008: p. 188). De Kadt suggested three
main categories of host-guest contact (Cooper et al., 2008: p.
192): when the guests buy goods and services from the hosts;
when the locals and tourists share a facility such as a cafe, a
restaurant or a concert hall, etc. and when tourists and locals
come together for the main purpose of cultural exchange. The
first two types of these communications are come with the gen-
erality of unfavourable sides of social contact, whereas the third
type of contact is usually thought to be positive (Cooper et al.,
2008: p. 193). The relationship between tourists and locals is
reviewed in this paper.
Review of Literature
Relationship between Tourists and Locals
An important contribution to the studies about the relation-
ship between hosts and guests was made by Doxey in 1975.
This model is also known as “Irridex (Index of Tourist Irrita-
tion)” and propounds that there is an evolutionary change in
local people’s behaviour towards tourists. If we are to measure
the level of sensitivity generated by host-guest contact Doxey
created below Index (Cooper et al., 2008: p. 195):
The level of euphoria—excitement and enthusiasm in the
The level of apathy—what contact is made between locals
and tourists is done on a commercial and official basis.
The level of irritation—tourism industry gets close to con-
The level of antagonism—the tourist is now perceived as
the reason of all sufferings.
The final level—the social impact has been carried out and
the tourists will choose other destinations.
While the tourist-local relationship is a matter of debate,
examining the relations between different groups of hosts and
tourists is relevant to this paper. Locals’ regard and appraisal of
and behaviour towards tourists may vary during any of the three
main categories of host-guest contact described above. Differ-
ent groups within the same community may also have different
manners and perceptions of communication and interaction
with tourists. As there is no possible way to resolve the issues
of perception about tourists (in this paper) or to analyse each
and every group of tourists, a categorisation of hosts and guests
has been determined based on the observations of various other
Upper Class Locals—as their lifestyles are similar with those
of tourists and their educational and cultural levels are high,
and most of them can speak the language of tourists. Upper
class locals are those who can most easily interact with the
tourists (Avcıkurt, 2003: p. 59).
Lower Class Locals—as it is easy for upper class locals to
communicate with tourists, so it is hard to do so for this group.
Among the reasons for this may be the difference between their
life styles, a lack of language skills, a lack of information about
F. Ö. SARI
the countries and cultures of tourists, fear from rich tourists,
shyness, belittlement and jealousy (Avcıkurt, 2003: p. 59).
Young People—since younger locals tend to fancy novelty
and adventure, meeting with foreigners and experiencing a new
life style appeals to them, therefore they tend to interact with
and talk to tourists more often. Particularly young local men
and women tourists make friends for sexual reasons (Doğan,
2004: p. 87).
The Opposite Sex—most relationships between younger lo-
cals and tourists are motivated by sexual gratification. These
kinds of relationships are usually between young local men and
female tourists, whereas local women trying to establish a rela-
tionship with male tourists usually have an ulterior motive of
ostensibly a good marriage (Doğan, 2004: p. 87). Though “sex
tourism” has generally been applied to the behaviour of tourists
whose purpose is to engage in commercial sex with local
women in tourist destinations, it can have a wider application.
The term doesn’t essentially imply prostitution and can poten-
tially be used to apply to the behaviour of tourists who expect
sexual interaction with fellow tourists in resorts, or non-com-
mercial sex with locals in Western destinations as a routine part
of their holiday experience (Jeffreys, 2003).
Children—thanks to their curiosity, children are interested in
tourists, and they run after them in an attempt to communicate.
This could be annoying for some tourists, as others enjoy chil-
dren’s interest (Doğan, 2004: p. 87).
Tourism Professionals—this is the group tourists interact
most frequently. Alongside their relations among themselves,
tourists most often interact with hotel employees, waiters, sales
people, guides and others offering tourism services (Doğan,
2004: p. 88).
As tourists spend a limited amount of time in the holiday lo-
cation their interaction with the locals are limited. Especially
the relations of tourists who lodge in the holiday villages and
outside the residential areas are limited to contact with tourism
professionals. The likes of tourism professionals are those di-
rectly connected to the airport, customs officers, police, drivers,
travel agencies, hotel employees, vendors, guides and other
related workers (Avcıkurt, 2003: p. 60).
Hospitalit y a s a Tradition of Tu rki sh Society
Hospitality was a very important value even in the nomadic
Turkish society. Sayings of Mahmud Kashgari “Guests come
with their blessings” and Dada Gorgud (Dede Korkut) “Better
to knock down bad households that receive no guests” are ex-
amples of the Turkish mentality towards hospitality. In the
nomadic culture hospitality is partially related to benevolence,
and benevolence is based on the idea of human’s inability to
spend more than their share. Turkish society still has a custom
of hospitality (Tezcan, 2000). As mentioned in a paper by Şen
(2005), two celebrities, Tom Hanks and Vladimir Putin have
uttered their surprise in the face of the hospitality of our citizens.
Two countries, Thailand and Turkey, have come to the fore
worldwide with their traditions of hospitality which plays an
important role in broadcasting their images to the world. Analy-
sis made on the understanding of hospitality in these two coun-
tries shows that this traditional structure will survive through
the many years into the future (Şen, 2005).
On the other hand, there are many problematic elements in
regard to locals’ relations with tourists (Kozak, 2007). Although it
is possible to experience the taste of traditional hospitality in
non-touristy small villages, particularly in the interior of Tur-
key (Tucker, 2003), there is a sense that this authenticity may
disappear in similar towns of the coastal zones and metropolis-
tan cities (Korzay & Alvarez, 2005). As a consequence of these
observations, this study aims to examine the tourist and hospi-
tality notions of young Turkish people.
Qualitative methodology was used in this research. Research
was conducted in the city of Izmir which is both a major tour-
ism destination and one of the major metropolitan cities of
Turkey. Face to face interview techniques was used to collect
data from the students of a foundation university in this city.
Simple random sampling technique was used in order to give
every student of the university an equal chance to be inter-
viewed. With each respondent an unstructured face to face in-
terview was been conducted. Unstructured interviews allow
researchers to focus the respondents’ talk on a particular topic
of interest, and may allow researchers the opportunity to test
out his or her preliminary understanding, while still allowing
ample opportunity for new ways of seeing and understanding to
develop (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2011).
Descriptive Statistics of the Sample
In this research interviewers made face to face interviews
with 102 students of aforementioned university. The mean age
of the students was 21 years old (Table 1) which is very appro-
priate for the target of this study. Six of the respondents refused
to give demographic information. The respondents were di-
vided between 56 percent female and 44 percent male. Re-
spondents claiming to speak foreign languages were 92 percent
speaking English as a foreign language, while 6 percent of them
spoke German and 2 percent spoke French, beyond Turkish as a
mother-tongue. Respondents claiming to have travelled outside
of Turkey equalled 45 percent. A total of 58 percent of the re-
spondents claimed work experience in tourism sector and 71
percent claimed an intention to work in tourism sector in the future.
Evocations of the Term “Tourist”
At the beginning for each interview a simple question was
asked to the respondents: what are the words that come to your
mind when the subject is “tourist”? Table 2 indicates the per-
centage weight of specific words that came to the respondents’
Descriptive statistics of sample.
N Min. Max. Mean Std.
Age 96 18 27 21.221.848
Sex (1 = Female; 2 = Male) 1021 2 1.44 .499
(1 = Yes; 2 = No)96 1 2 1.55 .500
Experience in tourism
1 = Yes; No
96 1 2 1.42 .496
Intention to work in tourism
sector (1 = Yes; 2 = No) 94 1 2 1.29 .455
Valid N (listwise) 94
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 201
F. Ö. SARI
Evocations of the term “tourist”.
Money (to be gained by the local people) 43%
Entertai nment (opportunity for the respondent to share with)41%
Foreigner (different culture) 21%
Culture (opportunity to learn about) 20%
minds when subject was “tourist”. Respondents claiming that
the word “tourist” evokes money as the earnings of local people
equalled 43 percent. Following closely, 41 percent of respon-
dents have said that the evocation of word “tourist” is enter-
tainment which means they might get the opportunity to share
it with tourists. A total of 21 percent of the respondents claimed
that the word “tourist” associates with foreigner who comes
from a different country and culture, while 20 percent claimed
culture which contains the hope of learning about those cul-
tures. A total of 15 percent of the respondents have stated that
word “tourist” evokes hotel, while 14 percent claimed guest
and 5 percent claimed sex. These numbers point out that the
majority of current research participants perceive tourists as the
source of economical and social benefits more than they see the
tourists as guests.
Feelings and T houghts about “Tourists”
Another open ended question of this research was related to
the respondents’ feelings and thoughts about tourists. Findings
expose that most of these young Turkish people have positive
feelings and attitudes towards tourists, as can be gained from
selected sentences from the interviews (below).
Interviewer: “Can you express any of your ‘inner thoughts’
of how you feel about foreign tourists here?”
20 year old, male, Computer Programming student: “I am
proud of that the tourists wonder about my country and they
22 year old, male, Industrial Engineering student: “I be-
lieve that it is necessary to respect tourists a little more in our
country. There are a lot of tourists feeling harassed outside their
hotels, so they choose to stay in the borders of accommodation
20 year old, female, Public Relations student: “In the era
that tourism sector keeps growing, it is important to respect
tourists. Every single tourist that we interact culturally adds
something to us.”
20 year old, female, Computer Engineering student: “Tour-
ists are special guests in our country. We should introduce our
history, culture, food and all the other unique characteristics to
them. People should try to understand tourists and not misbe-
As it was specified in preceding paragraphs, hospitality is
one of the cornerstones of Turkish culture. Majority of Turkish
people feel bound to honor guests in the best possible manner
and try strongly to communicate that (enjoyturkey.com, 2011).
Hazel Tucker stated that the people of Goreme, a central Ana-
tolian town in the region of Cappadocia, take pride in present-
ing a culture of warm hospitality. The concepts of hospitality to
encourage guests are central to the villagers’ discourses re-
garding themselves, their lives and tourism. Traditional hospi-
tality concept is associated with pride which is another signifi-
cant characteristic of Turkish people and guests to any Turkish
village must be treated with the utmost respect and generosity
(Tucker, 2003: p. 122).
20 year old, female, Tourism Management student: “Tour-
ists are people who would like to be distant from the place they
live for a certain period of time, and would simply like to have
a good time, to relax or to rest. Because they pay in return for
the services provided, they always expect more and more…
Unfortunately, some tourists behave as if they had purchased
the personnel of the accommodation, catering, entertainment or
other facilities, as well. Such an approach can really make you
lose your patience.”
“Pride” having vital importance is another inherent feature of
Turkish society. They are sensitive to the concept of “Respect”
as the respondents stated above. When they realize that par-
ticular tourists misbehave or behave disrespectfully, their reac-
tion could be stiff because such attitudes would be perceived as
undignified. The tourists’ position as guests in relation to lo-
cals’ hospitality can be confusing for both players. Situations
often arise in which tourists feel confused about offers of gen-
erosity and friendship in the tourism realm, or where they feel
trapped and restricted by the obligatory ties created by their
hosts. Similarly, the locals increasingly feel that their hospital-
ity is abused and eroded by tourists (Tucker, 2003: p. 135).
22 year old, mal e, Busine ss Ad ministratio n studen t: “When
tourist and tourism is the discussion subject, I directly think
about their contribution to the national economy. In order to
increase their contribution, tourists’ needs and wants should be
satisfied in the best possible way. Besides, our people should be
trained and public awareness of tourism and the tourist must be
Tourism industry is established on a web of interactions be-
tween locals, providers, tourism services, the tourist, and the
natural environment (Kozak, 2006). This kind of interaction-
web is usually denser between younger locals and tourists, so it
becomes obvious that their attitude toward the word “tourist”
has a vital importance. This study seeks an insight whether
young Turkish people sustain the notion of traditional “Turkish
Hospitality” by seeking inputs based on their perceptions of
Although the Turkish university students participated in this
research considered tourists as a source of income, they also
regarded tourists as fun-loving people coming from foreign
countries and different cultures, recognising they stay in hotels
as valuable, paying guests for a period of time. The occurrence
of the word “Guest” was less frequent than expected: in the
light of traditional Turkish Hospitality and family structure it
was anticipated that respondents would see tourists as guests in
the first place. However, it is pleasing to observe that “Hospi-
tality” and “Guest” notions haven’t been entirely faded away.
The issue of hospitality has long been important to the Turk-
ish psyche and sense of identity: it has been deeply rooted in
Turkish culture and has survived throughout history. Turkey, as
a macro tourism destination, should take all the precautions
necessary in order to turn this inestimable quality of Turkish
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
F. Ö. SARI
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 203
culture into an advantage for local tourism—while at the same
time preserving the innate and spontaneous character of this
intensely local hospitality. Local people at the destinations,
employees of all the businesses connected with tourism sector
and tourism students should be educated/trained so as not to
ignore this aspect of Turkish culture. This level of apparently
natural warmth-of-hospitality is not so common in other places
around the world, and it could be argued that the Turkish com-
munity could cherish and empower such hospitality for later
Limitations of the Study and Suggestions for Future
The generalised character of current research findings has
been necessary because of the limited qualitative nature of re-
lated research. Even so, it can be claimed that some distinctive
findings were obtained. Researchers should enlarge the sample
size for future studies. The qualitative nature of current study
might be seen as another limitation of the research. Use of
quantitative methods could be suggested for future research.
Another issue that could be addressed in future research is the
relation between “commercial provision of services in tourism
realm” and “pride” concept which is one of the significant
characteristics of Turkish society.
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